Tonawanda News

December 1, 2013

Extension delayed

By Michael Regan michael.regan@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The onset of winter weather this week will delay the opening of the Meadow Drive expansion project in North Tonawanda until the spring. 

City Engineer Dale Marshall said much of the project is completed though with two more coats of asphalt needed, the city will instead leave the thoroughfare closed for the several months, with only a few weeks of work left to wrap it up.   

“I would like to start up again in April,” he said, adding that more permanent barricades will be put in place in the coming weeks. “But I don’t know what the winter will bring.” 

The extension was held up in bureaucratic limbo for years as the city fought off state wetland designation, the purchase of several privately-owned plots and other legal hurdles. 

The concept of expanding the street was first discussed in the 1970s, though little movement was made until 2006, when former Rep. Tom Reynolds retrieved a $1.4 million federal grant. 

More state funding left the city with an $89,000 contribution for the $1.8 million project that added 3,300 feet to the street that will connect with Erie Avenue. 

City officials believe the extension will connect a portion of the city’s business district to Niagara Falls Boulevard, drawing more traffic to the Payne Avenue and downtown area. 

The news of the delayed opening comes as the city and its community development arm, fronted by the Lumber City Development Corporation, await the results of the next round of state-funded consolidated grants expected to be released in December. 

North Tonawanda is seeking to pull in $900,000 to fund three projects through the New York State Consolidated Funding Application, a competitive process started by Gov. Andrew Cuomo more than two years ago. The governor announced in May he would release $760 million statewide. 

With nearly $1 million hanging in the balance, Mayor Rob Ortt said if the city successfully acquires the state funding it would complete the final portion of the marina, at a cost of approximately $1 million, including dredging and the additional docking. A public restroom and lighting have been added there as well in recent months. 

Officials also are eyeing the resuscitation of Oliver Street, once the city’s commercial center, between Wheatfield and Schenck streets, with $200,000 being sought for facade improvements. 

North Tonawanda has brought in roughly $5 million in federal and state funding since 2009, including $2 million geared toward the Remington Lofts and Gratwick Riverside Marina, while members of the LCDC have stated that recent development momentum could bold well for the obtainment of more state funding.